Senior Fellow: October 2017–March 2018
Exhibition Project: Visual Scepticism. How Images Doubt
Images as media of knowledge production play a more prominent role today than ever before. Because of its specific technical preconditions, the photographic image is especially associated with a high degree of authenticity and the capability to depict the truth. In the digital era, these rather problematic predicates, as the indexical promise of truth, persist. Against this background, the question of how images are able to make an issue of their own status as media of knowledge production gains greater importance; they exhibit this status on the one side and doubt it on the other.
Until now, the analysis of positions of scepticism in art history has been made by connecting philosophical movements to iconographies of images. The few publications which have dealt with scepticism ask above all how philosophical texts were reflected in works of art. The exhibition project here chooses a different approach. It explores only visual discourses which do not depend on previous texts. It will ask how images, because of their particular medial structure, were sites of performative processes which can be compared to dialogical strategies of scepticism. The main thesis of the project is that, in this case, contradictions and negations arise which have the character of medial self-interrogation.
Margit Kern is a professor of art history at the Universität Hamburg.